Here’s what happened.
I was riding along 202 on my fixie—oh, how I love the Pista—planning to ride up to Snoqualmie Falls, then maybe continue on. Just see where the road takes me.
Then, as I went by Ames Lake Road, I looked to my left and saw another cyclist heading away.
“I know,” I thought to myself as I went by, “I’ll use him as a rabbit. It’ll be fun to catch someone while on my fixie.”
So I turned turned around, turned on to Ames Lake Road, and started cranking hard. It’s a twisty road, so I could no longer see him. I pushed hard, though, and before long could catch glimpses on the straightaway.
There was just one problem. Even though I was close to redline, I still wasn’t catching him. He was successfully holding me off, without even knowing I was there.
And then, fortune smiled on me. He pulled over to the side of the road.
“A flat,” I thought, and figured I’d offer him a tube or whatever he needed to get rolling again.
But no. As I got closer, I could see: he was just taking a call. So I nodded as I went by, trying to look casual. Then, as soon as I got past, I cranked it up again. Now I was the rabbit. I figured, though, that just as he had held me off, I should be able to hold him off.
I was not able to hold him off.
“Is that a fixed gear bike?” Bob asked.
“Yes,” I said, proudly.
“You doing that for any reason?” Bob asked. This, of course, was a trick question. If I replied that I was doing it because I wanted to become a stronger rider with a smoother cadence, Bob would know that I was a serious rider, which would make his victory over me that much sweeter (for him, not for me).
“Nah, no reason,” I said. “I bought it because I wanted to try track racing, but it turns out that I just really love riding a fixed-gear bike. So I’m just cruising along.”
“Cool,” said Bob. “I’m doing a recovery ride today after a big sufferfest I did last weekend. Some friends and I did a 300-mile ride. Mind if I tool along with you?”
“Sounds great,” I said, backing my effort off ever-so-slightly, to prevent my heart from exploding.
We were on an empty country road, so we rode side-by-side. This meant conversation, and a chance for me to gain an oxygen advantage, by doing the following:
- Ask short questions that require long answers. “So, tell me about this big ride you did last weekend. Don’t leave out any details.”
- Parry questions back to the questioner. “Sure, I’m following the Giro whenever I get a moment, but I haven’t been able to track it for a few days. What’s been happening?”
- Play deaf. “You know, cars keep passing. Could you repeat everything you’ve said in the past 90 seconds?”
Since we had both identified that we were not going hard today, you would think that we wouldn’t have to go hard. However, the statement, “I’m taking it easy today” is really nothing more than a thinly-veiled offer to race. Here’s how I managed to stay with Bob:
- Half-wheel him. Drop behind just a little bit and catch a little draft, even though I’m technically riding beside him.
- Take advantage of quick dips. The nice thing about the ride we were on is that it rolls. Lots of quick ups and downs. A fixed gear bike is perfect for converting a quick downhill into a short blast of uphill power.
- When you’re about to blow, bow out. After about forty minutes of riding at what I would call a brutal pace and what he called a recover ride, I knew I was going to crack. I preferred this to be a private moment. So when we crossed highway 202 and he looked like he was going to go straight up to Issaquah-Fall City road, I turned right. “Good riding with you,” I said, and then really turned the cranks hard for 30 seconds as I went down highway 202.
And then, once I was sure he was out of sight, I felt free to softpedal the whole way home.
PS: Clearly, I’m not writing as often as usual right now. With a new job keeping me very busy and a move coming up two weeks from today, my choice is often to ride or write—but not both. Sometimes (OK, pretty often), I’m going to choose riding. I’m sure you understand, because you are a good, understanding, kind person. You’re like Jimmy Stewart. And because you are so kind, I want to assure you: I’m not letting this blog die a slow death; I’m not quitting. I’m just stretched a little thin right now. Metaphorically, alas.
PPS: With a move, a new job, a big project in that job, working at home, a conference coming up for my job, a lot of travel in my job and whatnot, I know that there’s no humanly possible way I’m going to lose ten pounds by June 25 (the day of the Cascade Cream Puff). I’m going to concentrate on not gaining a bunch of weight and on being in good enough shape to complete it, and once I’ve settled into my new house, work on losing the fifteen pounds I need to get that sub-9 at Leadville. And here’s my pledge: If I don’t get to 155 pounds by August 12, I will give away my beloved Bianchi Pista.
PPPS: Next week, I’m going to have some cool stuff to announce, which will likely mean cool stuff to give away. Unless it falls through, in which case I will pretend I never hinted at anything here.
PPPPS: I just now signed up to ride the LOTOJA with Dug and Rick S. That was dumb.